Best of Tajikistan & Uzbekistan

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Overview

Get yourself to two incredible (and often overlooked) destinations: Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. This 15-day combo trip brings together the best highlights of these two cultures for first-time visitors. Stay at unique Tajik homestays and roam the stunning countryside before heading to the cultural centre of Samarkand. Spend a night in a traditional desert yurt and discover a part of the world few others get to see. This is a tour for all kinds of adventurers.

Itinerary

Day 1: Dushanbe

Arrive at any time.

Welcome to the capital of Tajikistan on the Varzob River with snowcapped mountains in the backdrop. There are no activities planned until the evening welcome meeting, so get out there and explore.

Day 2: Dushanbe/Kŭli Iskandarkŭl

Enjoy a morning tour of Dushanbe, visiting the main monuments, museum, and mosque. After lunch, drive through the valleys and mountains to Iskandar-Kuli for a short hike to Iskander Darya waterfall. Afterward, continue the drive—passing Alexander the Great's lake—to your overnight stay at a local home in the stunning mountain valley. Meet the local people and explore the gorgeous landscape of the Fann Mountains.

Includes: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3: Kŭli Iskandarkŭl

After breakfast, embark on a trek alongside Sarytag and the Karakul River. Return to the homestay for lunch and spend the afternoon at leisure. Later, head to Sarytag Village to experience local living and get a better understanding of life in this remote region. After the village exploration, head back to the homestay for a delicious Tajikistan dinner.

Includes: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Kŭli Iskandarkŭl/Khŭjand

Continue on to Khujand, stopping first in Istaravshan to explore a local mosque and Mug Teppe, an ancient citadel fortress stormed by Alexander the Great in 329 BC. Enjoy an optional lunch in a local chaikhana (teahouse) before continuing the drive to Khujand. Wander the city in the afternoon, visiting the Historical Museum of Sughd, resembling a castle, and the Mausoleum of Sheik Muslekheddin.

Includes: Breakfast

Day 5: Khŭjand/Tashkent

Visit the Khujand market (largest in Tajikistan) before continuing on to the border. Cross into Uzbekistan and drive to the capital city of Tashkent, where modern skyscrapers mix with Soviet-era architecture and mosaic mausoleums. Enjoy a short orientation walk in the evening before an optional dinner.

Some travellers will be joining the group here as they start their journey into Uzbekistan.

Includes: Breakfast

Day 6: Tashkent

Spend the day freely exploring this unique bustling city. Check out one of the many museums, wander the streets admiring the modern, Soviet-era architecture, venture up Tashkent Tower (which offers city views from its observation deck), or wander through the bazaar.

Includes: Breakfast

Day 7: Tashkent/Samarkand

Travel on to Samarkand, known for intricately beautiful mosques and mausoleums, situated on the Silk Road. Take an orientation walk and opt to visit the Amir Timur Mausoleum, dedicated to the famous conqueror who once hoped to rebuild the empire of Genghis Khan.

Includes: Breakfast

Day 8: Samarkand

Embark on a city tour, visiting Ulugbek Observatory, Shaki Zinda complex, the bazaar, Bibi Khanum, and Registan Square. With a free afternoon, continue exploring the Samarkand sights, have a cuppa in a local tea house, or wander around the bazaar. Opt to explore the Tomb of Prophet Daniel, famous for the Biblical story of Daniel and the lions.

Includes: Breakfast

Day 9: Samarkand/Aydar Kŭl Camp

Travel out into the desert to visit Chashma Complex, a pilgrimage site in the territory of Nurata, dominated by ruins of Alexander the Great's fortress, Juma mosque, a bath-house, and the ancient Panjvakta mosque. All of this, hiding a holy spring believed to heal diseases. After exploring the complex, head to Aidarkul Lake and opt for a swim before continuing on for an overnight stay in a local yurt camp. Enjoy an authentic Uzbekistan dinner and an evening Kazakh singing show.

Includes: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 10: Aydar Kŭl Camp/Bukhara

Travel to Bukhara, known as one of the most charming cities in the country, and get your bearings on an orientation walk. Opt to visit the old city bazaars, enjoy a traditional dinner cooked by a local family, visit a hammam (bathhouse), or just relax in the pleasant atmosphere of this Silk Road city.

Includes: Breakfast

Day 11: Bukhara

Explore Bukhara on a half-day guided walking tour around the beautifully restored mosques, madrassas, and covered markets, or trading domes, that make up the Old City. A centre for pottery, cloth, and carpets, Bukhara is centered around Lyabi-Hauz, a delightful pool of water surrounded by ancient mulberry trees. Wander the artisan shops and narrow twisting streets and alleyways, or sit at a café table and let the evening drift by. Opt to watch a local puppet show held in an old caravanserai, or indulge in a rejuvenating hammam bathhouse.

Includes: Breakfast

Day 12: Bukhara/Khiva

Enjoy a scenic drive through the desert on a full day's journey to reach UNESCO-listed Khiva, well worth the arduous drive. Get to know this peaceful, picturesque city on a late afternoon orientation walk, and pick your favourite spots to explore more in-depth tomorrow.

Includes: Breakfast

Day 13: Khiva

Before exploring this historic town on your own, enjoy a guided tour to learn about local life here. Wander through the narrow labyrinth mudbrick alleyways of old town, bargain with locals at the bazaar, admire the madrassas, mosques, and blue mosaic domes, climb up towering minarets, and venture into the dark dungeons Khiva was infamous for back in the 10th century. Explore the inner walls of Ichon-Qala, and enjoy spectacular sunset views on the sand-coloured buildings.

Includes: Breakfast

Day 14: Khiva/Tashkent

Take a short flight back to Tashkent and enjoy a city tour, then explore on your own with some free time.

Day 15: Tashkent

Depart at any time.

Includes: Breakfast

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